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32 Easy Nail Art Hacks For The Perfect Manicure

You have a hard enough time applying a single coat without making a smeary mess. Here are some techniques that will make the complicated world of nail art seem a lot less daunting.

1. Use a regular old gel pen (like the kind from the office supply store) to draw intricate designs.

Apparently a black gel pen really works if you want precision. Reddit Laqueristas swear by the Muji .38 gel pen.

Warning: it takes some time to dry, so wait a good 30 minutes before adding the topcoat.

2. Make easy polka dots with the tip of a bobby pin.

3. Use this dot grid trick to paint straight lines.

4. Super thin nail tape will let you create stripes with ease.

It's super cheap, too.

You can use it right on the nail as decoration.

5. Oh...and guess what? You can store your nail strip tape in an empty tape dispenser.

6. Turn any nail polish into GLITTER nail polish.

The great part is that you can control the concentration of the glitter.

7. Get a turquoise and gold stone look using a plastic bag.

8. Use a toothpick and a cotton wad to create a super precise clean-up tool.

It's more precise than a brush.

9. Here's a great way to put that white nail polish to good use.

Use it to make a super easy ombrè manicure.

10. Add corn starch to clear nail polish to create a DIY matte topcoat.

11. If you love the French manicure, it might be worth investing in a French Tip Dip.

Pinner claims, "It took about a minute and a half to do both hands, very pleased." You can get one here for $14.95.

12. Or just use a rubber band.

13. Create an easy heart with a heart-shaped hole punch and painters' tape.

14. Make your own nail decals using the plastic baggie method.

Get the full details here.

15. Use a waxy pencil to apply rhinestones.

Way easier than using your fingers or tweezers.

16. Use a band-aid to get tiny polka dots.

Band-Aids also create the PERFECT French manicure tip.

17. Using a nail glitter pen, draw a stripe along your French manicure tip to dress it up and cover up any uneven lines.

Stripe Rite makes good, inexpensive nail glitter pens.

18. Apply Elmer's glue with a thin paint brush, which peels off to reveal a perfect manicure.

This is a great technique if you're doing any kind of messy technique, like water marbling or sponging.

19. Use a mechanical pencil to make tiny dots.

20. Paint over lace or mesh to create an easy design.

21. You can do this holographic foil manicure in under five minutes.

What's great about this manicure is the lack of precision. The more haphazard, the better it looks. Get the instructions here.

22. Get a gradient effect by dabbing glitter nail polish onto a porous sponge.

23. Create a spiky effect with the edge of a liquid eyeliner pen.

Get the full details here.

24. Make your own nail decals by printing out designs on temporary inkjet paper.

Get the instructions on how to do this holographic rainbow effect using temporary tattoo paper here.

25. Carve out pencil erasers to make an easy leopard stamp.

26. Use a white base coat to make neon nail polish really POP.

27. Write on your nails with Sharpie.

Comes right off with rubbing alcohol. It's a great way to switch up designs on a gel manicure.

Use a super-fine metallic Sharpie pen for extra thin lines.

28. Here's an easy way to get ombre nails without having to use the messy sponge method.

Start swirling where the two colors meet and add a topcoat while still wet to blend even more.

29. Use a toothpick to dot blobs of nail polish into desired shapes.

30. Use a fan brush to create a striped effect.

31. Stuff a sponge into a jar and soak it in acetone to make an easy DIY nail polish remover.

Great for glitter polishes, where you really need to soak your nail in remover to get it all off.

32. And for the easiest Halloween manicure ever...

Just use two different-sized dotting tools to create a googly-eye accent nail.

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